The Los Angeles Lakers announced Thursday that swingman Nick Young will "be out a minimum of two weeks" after an MRI exam revealed that he had suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left patella (kneecap) and a bone bruise during L.A.'s 119-108 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
The injury appeared to take place when Young was fouled by Cleveland's C.J. Miles during a fast break with just under 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the second quarter:
After being wrapped up and ridden into the basket support, Young got up gingerly and began to hobble a bit, clearly favoring his left leg. He headed to the line and made his free throws, and remained in the game for the duration of the second quarter, but was ruled out with a "twisted left knee" and did not return after halftime. He finished with six points on 1 for 5 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in 17 1/2 minutes.
Young's injury limited the already shorthanded Lakers to just seven healthy bodies. A later calf injury to point guard Jordan Farmar would make it six, and Chris Kaman's sixth foul reduced Mike D'Antoni's squad to a five-man team, triggering a rarely referenced rule that allowed fellow fouled-out big man Robert Sacre to stay in the game after picking up his sixth personal late in thhee fourth quarter, because you can't field a team with fewer than five players. Despite all their injuries, though, the Lakers held on for an 11-point win that ranked as the worst loss of the season for Mike Brown's Cavaliers and helped precipitate the Thursday firing of Cleveland general manager Chris Grant.
While they had enough of a cushion to ride out the bizarre finish in Cleveland, Young's absence continues the Lakers' horrific run of injury luck.
Stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will be out for at least a couple more weeks, and wing Xavier Henry remains sidelined indefinitely with a strained right knee. Jodie Meeks (sprained right ankle) and Jordan Hill (neck strain) went down during Tuesday's loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Steve Nash, who returned on Tuesday, will have his minutes closely monitored after spending nearly three months on the shelf with nerve issues in his back and legs. Steve Blake, who returned alongside Nash, is still nursing a sore right elbow and suffered a ruptured eardrum in the loss to the Wolves. Farmar dressed for that game, but was held out for a Wednesday comeback in the second game of the Lakers' back-to-back against the Cavs, only to leave early with a left calf strain. And now, Young — who leads the team in points over the course of the season and ranks second in per-game scoring to Gasol with 16.9 points per contest — will be in street clothes through the All-Star break. (At least we know they'll be interesting clothes.)
After a day off Thursday, the Lakers will likely have nine bodies heading into Friday's matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers — Nash, Blake, Farmar, point guard Kendall Marshall, swingman Wesley Johnson, big men Kaman, Hill, Sacre, and rookie forward Ryan Kelly. Just to be safe, though, the Lakers called forward Shawne Williams up from their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and signed him to a 10-day contract after announcing Young's injury on Thursday.
Williams made 32 appearances for the Lakers earlier this season, including 11 starts, before the Lakers waived him on Jan. 7, the deadline for his contract becoming fully guaranteed for the remainder of the regular season. He's expected to join the team in Philadelphia on Friday and be available to, if nothing else, prevent Kaman from stretching out on the bench again.
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